That’s much better!

That’s much better!

It’s good to report the telephone box at the bottom of Gravel Walk has been put back together again. I presume by BT?

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All the missing glass panels have been restored.

My thanks to Bary Gilbertson – the Chairman of the Circus Area Residents Association – for getting this noticed by the right people.

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It really was a sorry sight to see. How proud we were of our red telephone boxes at one time.

Bath Newseum had reported on its poor and vandalised condition.

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While we are in that area – still waiting for someone to clean the tree sap and dust off the information board just inside the ‘free to enter’ Georgian Garden at Number 4 The Circus. Accessed off the Gravel Walk!

Step in the right direction

Step in the right direction

Well, the good news coming out of the newly-restyled Saw Close is that those new and ‘dangerous’ steps now bear a white strip on the edge of each tread and even some railings to mark where they are – and for people to use!

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White edges and rails in the background.

I recently sent an email to Mr Alan Hope – who is CEO of the Midas Group – the company responsible for the scheme to build a boutique hotel, casino and restaurant as part of a new look for that historic area.

B&NES also helped with the newly re-surfaced space but told Bath Newseum that they had fenced off the offending steps and informed the developers of the problem.

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Bike racks and rows of benches ‘litter’ the open space.

That now does seem to be being addressed but l was also critical of what –  l think – is a wasted opportunity in this part of Bath.

As l have not heard from Mr Hope – and l sent a reminder – l will publish my email to him in full.

“Dear Mr Hope,

I am a journalist with a daily blog called www.bathnewseum.com and have recently had reason to mention the dangerous steps that have been incorporated into Bath’s Saw Close development which – l understand – your group has done.
B&NES tell me they have ‘drawn the developer’s attention’ to the steps – down which several people have told me they have fallen. They are now fenced off.
Some people – including my blog – are critical of the way the new space has been maximised. While there is no criticism of your building work, some feel the space in front of it could have been made more of.
 While bike stands and seats are useful it is a shame the space couldn’t have had a water feature – or at least a tree – instead of rows of benches and parked bikes.
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I see you managed to install a lovely water feature behind the Winter Gardens in my hometown of Weston-super-Mare.
I would be grateful for a comment – or even an interview. I shoot video as well.”
I don’t know if followers of this website agree with me or not.
Not any old hanging basket!

Not any old hanging basket!

He’s abseiled down the rock face of both Bristol’s Avon Gorge and Cheddar Gorge but today, climber Alex Matheson was easing his way down the heady heights of a living vine inside one of Bath’s most unusual new buildings – the eight-storey tall Royal View.

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Alex at work on his hanging vine. Looking a bit like Jack and his beanstalk!

This is part of the Crest Nicholson residential development at Bath Riverside – a former industrial site that once housed the city’s gasworks – and now offers every form of accommodation from studios to four bedroomed homes.

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Royal View – with Sovereign Point under construction in the background.

The central internal feature of this landmark building is an open atrium soaring all the way to the glass roof.

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Looking up through the atrium from the ground floor.

From it are suspended columns of living foliage which thrive in the natural light.

Alex’s job – every few months – is to come and trim this amazing indoor garden and abseiling up and down each column is the only way to do it.

Alex was shown how to do his green trimming by the gardeners responsible for landscaping the whole Crest Nicholson site.

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There’s a bit of a hanging garden outside Royal View too!

While he has a head for heights l was grateful for the railings surrounding the penthouse apartment l had come to see.

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I don’t happen to have 1.25 million pounds spare at the moment but was taking advantage of the view from its many balconies while it remains one of only three properties in the whole building still for sale.

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Inside the two-storey rooftop penthouse apartment which is for sale for 1.25 million pounds.

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The penthouse has views to die for from its two en-suite fitted bedrooms.

The view towards the west on the Bristol side is amazing. You can look across the River Avon and admire Royal Victoria Park where a variety of beautiful trees are blooming with fresh May growth.

On this side of the Avon, you look down towards the new park taking shape between the two landmark buildings on this development.

Crest are already selling apartments in the sister block of Sovereign Point.

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Another view of the Crest Nicholson development from the top of Royal View.

We’ll be back at Bath Riverside very soon with more stories concerning this new residential city hub.

 

 

 

 

Watch your step!

Watch your step!

Bath’s Saw Close has a long and not always noble history. It was where timber was sawn up for our city’s Georgian building boom – trees dragged in over ditches with a man up top and one below at either end of a giant saw. Getting the upper hand is a phrase that may well have come from the job of the man on top. Much nicer than getting sawdust in your eyes down below.

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The ‘new’ public space at the Saw Close.

However, there were other pits in this open space – once also known as Timber Green – for bear baiting and cockfighting.

While now ‘marked-out’ by the Theatre Royal, old Blue Coat School and what’s left of the Palace Theatre – it had a more industrial past as the site for clay pipe manufacturing and a soap and candle factory.

Bath’s first organised large-scale gambling since the days of Beau Nash gets underway in a couple of week’s time with the opening of the casino. There’s a boutique hotel opening in the near future too.

They are products of a new development that is being used to revitalise and energise the area and with a large public ‘piazza’ in the middle of it all.

I don’t know who does the design work for this sort of thing but it is nowhere near as grand as anything you might see in Spain or Italy.

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Not what l would call an imaginative layout!

I am a keen cyclist myself but cannot understand why a big open space is ‘littered’ with cycle racks and rows of bus-station-styled benches when there could have been a fountain – or at least a tree – as a centrepiece.

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You cannot make out each step or acknowledge there is a drop.

The steps that have been installed at the Blue Coat School end are positively dangerous. Coming into the space from Upper Borough Wall the edges are not defined. I am seeing tumble after stumble as people trip on them.

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Each step is going to need defining.

At least define them with white lines.

I am disappointed. Sterility rules OK?

 

In Bath, we rust.

In Bath, we rust.

There’s a good chance those rust-covered and expensive planters may stay on the London Road after all – though maybe in different positions.

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The irony of moving the container when it clearly bears a message referring to the London Road – supreme gateway to Bath – is not lost on me.

Took B&NES a couple of years to take action on a safety audit that had suggested the trees planted in some of them obscured the vision of motorists pulling out from side roads.

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Will the planters now be allowed to stay?

So – suddenly – the trees are ripped out or sawn off – and the artist-produced containers – that were designed to rust and which bear poetic quotes – seems destined for scrapping or replacing some of those unattractive (but necessary) concrete blocks in the city centre.

However, l hear there has been a softening of attitudes in that – as long as the safety issue is addressed – the planters can stay where they are or be moved slightly to new sites on the London Road where there is no obstruction to worry about.

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Crouching down to car driver level. I can still see what’s coming.

Have to say l crouched down to car driver level to take some pictures this morning and – as long as they are re-dressed with low growing plants – l cannot see any problem.

 

A B&NES spokesperson said they are looking into the business of visibility:

“The Council is still investigating issues caused by the positioning of the planters. One tree has been removed because it was dying and others removed temporarily and replanted whilst the Council gives further consideration to the issue of visibility at junctions on this stretch of London Road.

The positioning of the bus shelter will also be checked as part of the work on junction visibility. ”

 

 

In loving memory.

In loving memory.

While l am pleased B&NES have managed to get the Laura Place foumntain working again, regular followers of Bath Newseum will know l am criticial of this pathetic celebration of the ‘waters of Bath.’

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While the present ‘ashtray’ manifestation is nowhere near as grand as the original fountain of 1877 – at least it’s back in action.

However, it’s taken an exhibition which has just opened at the Museum of Bath Archtecture, to make me realise how that imposing crossroads may have looked very different if a couple of other ideas for that using that spot had come to fruition.

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The exhibition is called ‘Building Memory – the architecture of death and burial in Bath’ but it does look at other commemorative monuments to major events and personalities.

 

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Guests enjoying a preview of the new exhibition.

 

From high Victorian cemeteries through sombre war memorials to a peaceful garden for suffragettes, architecture has the power to commemorate the dead and captivate the living.

The celebration of great lives and commemoration of tragic loss has produced some of Bath’s most individual (and often forgotten) structures and spaces.

 

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A private preview evening of the new exhibition.

 

As we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War and the start of Votes for Women this is something that is examined in the exhibition which explores the architectural language of memory in Bath.

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I came across an illustration of a magnificent column that they actually started to build on the Laura Place site eventually occupied by a fountain.

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The Reform Act Column which would have towered over Great Pulteney Street!

After completion of the main street local residents petitioned and successfully raised significant funds to build a grand column – rather like Nelson’s Column in London –  to mark the passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832.

However, as construction of the column began, the residents realised that the addition would tower over the area – it would be 50% taller than the houses – and so they then petitioned for it to be cancelled.

After some negotiations, the column was pulled down and the much smaller fountain added instead.

Then – more recently –  a sketch for a War Memorial in Laura Place – dating from 1923. The sketch was possibly made by architect Reginald Blomfield when the location of Bath’s war memorial was first being discussed.

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Sorry about the reflection but the sketch is behind glass. It’s the Bath War Memorial that might have replaced the fountain in Laura Place.

From 1918 Blomfield has been the Imperial War Grave Commissions Principal Architect for France, and designed the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres in Belgium. Blomfiedl created the Cross of Sacrifice, on which he also based his design for the Bath War Memorial.

The exhibition also showed me the original location of the statue of Peace which now stands in Parade Gardens. It’s a memorial to King Edward V11 who died in 1910. A local committee was created to commission a memorial to him.

The king was popularly known as the ‘peacemaker’ due to his work on foreign policy negotiations, and building relationships between Britain and Europe.

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The statue of Peace in Parade Gardens.

By 1914 the committee felt it would be wrong to erect a statue to Peace during a time of war, and the project was postponed. The statue – by Newbury Trent –  was finally installed at Edgar Buildings in September 1919. In 1933 it was moved to Parade Gardens.

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The statue of Peace in its original position outside Edgar Buildings.

The exhibition runs through to November 25th but do click on the museum’s website for details of opening hours and charges. That’s http://museumofbatharchitecture.org.uk

 

 

Bath Abbey going​ green.

Bath Abbey going​ green.

Bath Abbey’s been given the go-ahead to turn ‘green’! It’s been granted a ‘lease of rights’ by B&NES Council to use some of the energy in Bath’s famous hot springs for an innovative eco-heating system to heat the complex.

 

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The Sacred Spring

 

Every day, a quarter of a million gallons of hot water flow from the Sacred Spring underneath the Roman Baths complex and through the Great Roman Drain into the nearby River Avon.

This underground journey takes it directly past the Abbey. If harnessed correctly and converted as part of the Abbey and B&NES Council’s joint initiative, it could produce 1.5 megawatts of continuous energy – more than enough to heat the Abbey and surrounding buildings.

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Part of the Roman drainage system that the Abbey has been given permission to access with heat exchangers.

As part of the Abbey’s ambitious Footprint project – which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – engineers plan to install heat exchangers in the Great Roman Drain which will capture the energy in the hot water and transform it into renewable energy. This will form part of a unique underground heating system that will be then used to heat the Abbey and other buildings.

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Charles Curnock, Project Director.

Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director from Bath Abbey, said: “This is a truly exciting and inventive way of tapping into Bath’s most famous resource to create sustainable energy. As far as we know, it has never been done before on this scale, and we are thrilled to be working with the Roman Baths and other departments of B&NES Council on this unique project.

“By granting us the lease of rights, the Council has set us on our way to providing a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for both the Abbey and the city of Bath by capturing this incredible and ancient natural resource which is currently unused.”

Charles Curnock added: “This a major change for the Abbey, but one which is vital now and for future generations. Our current heating system dates back to the Victorian era, is extremely inefficient and expensive to maintain. This combined with the work we’re doing as part of our wider Footprint project to repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor makes this the ideal time for us to consider a new underfloor heating system.”

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Bath Abbey – Looking East – proposed improvements.

The initial trials and investigations for the project have already taken place, and more planning and development is being carried out before further building work on the Abbey’s Footprint programme starts. Wessex Water will be digging and laying pipes that will carry hot water from the Roman Baths into the new eco-heating system. Any modern elements of the system would be hidden underground and an archaeologist will be working alongside the engineers to document any artefacts that may be uncovered by the required excavations.

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Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for communities and local government said: “This is a progressive, sustainable project for the Abbey, yet remains quintessentially Bath. This collaboration is a real achievement, and everyone should feel proud that they are adding to Bath’s heritage in an environmentally friendly manner. Along with the wider Footprint Project, it will really add value to the city. I look forward to attending services knowing the building is heated by the same water to which Bath owes its very existence.”

To find out more about to support the Footprint project, visit www.bathabbey.org/footprint. Your donations will be generously matched by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation. This means that any donation you give to the Footprint project will automatically be doubled: if you donate £10, the Brownsword Charitable Foundation will also give £10 – your £10 donation is worth £20 to Footprint! Simply use the reference ‘FPBF’ when donating.

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About Bath Abbey’s Footprint

The £19.3 million Footprint project aims to carry out essential repairs to the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs as a source of energy and enlarge capacity by creating 200sq metres of new facilities to fulfil the Abbey as a place of congregation, equal access and hospitality. A programme is also planned to record and interpret the Abbey’s 1,200 years of history and this iconic church for millions of visitors including educational visits. Thanks to a grant of £10.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, additional funds from private individuals and trusts, as well as the Abbey’s own congregation and visitors, the Abbey now has just over £1 million left to raise.

For further details about Bath Abbey, please visit www.bathabbey.org